Summary: Abraham sinned the same way Adam did by not taking leadership and a stand against his wife's sinful idea.
Have you ever watched those movies, usually war movies when a young couple falls deeply in love and wants to be married, but off the guy goes to war promising to come back to her, and she promises to faithfully wait for him no matter what?
Then she hears that he’s missing or killed and eventually ends up marrying someone else, usually a friend of the guy who didn’t come back, only to find that after they have their life all settled, the missing soldier that she loved miraculously returns to find her with someone else, and now she’s committed to her new husband and this great love is all for naught.
Our story is kind of like that today. There is a promise that we desperately want to hold on to, but as time passes with no results we don’t believe that the miracle promise will happen, so we go and do our own thing only to be disappointed and find that the promise was good after all, but we lost the opportunity to receive it. Fortunately in our story with God, he gives second and third chances, but we’re taking a big risk when we don’t wait for God’s promises to be fulfilled.
We just hear about this amazing covenant that God makes with Abraham in chapter 15. He tells Abraham, and I’m assuming Abraham told his wife Sarah, that his offspring will be as many as the stars, and him and God go through this big ceremony to cement the covenant.
Now the very next thing we hear at the beginning of chapter 16 is “Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had born him no children.” Trouble’s coming. We don’t know exactly how long it was between the covenant in chapter 15 and the events of our chapter today, but it was definitely less than ten years, and we are going to see that Sarai’s impatience and Abraham’s weakness causes:
I. A Fractured Home (vv 1-6)
And it begins with:
A. The Condition of Sarai (v. 1a)
Let’s assume that it was 10 years since the Lord made the covenant with Abraham, and Sarah is still barren after these 10 years in Canaan. Why is this, probably because God likes to do things in such a way that there is no doubt he is behind it, and he wants us to persevere in faith.
I suppose you can’t blame the seventy-something Sarah for wondering if God’s promise wasn’t going to be fulfilled.
So, according to:
B. The Custom of the Culture (vv 1b-2a)
Sarai gets her Egyptian servant Hagar and says, Abram, God is obviously not following through so why don’t you take my servant as your wife and it will at least be the next best thing to me having a child for you. Now this is an acceptable cultural practice at the time in a very sinful culture, but it’s not acceptable in God’s eyes. They chose the culture over God’s promise, again.
Here though, is the most important part of this scenario:
C. The Consent of Abram (v. 2b)
Abram didn’t take any leadership, he didn’t choose to wait and do what’s right, and show faith in God’s promise. He just says “Yes Dear.” Again, hard to blame old Abram, here he is an old man being tempted and given permission from his own wife to sleep with a younger woman. Again we see the incredible power of sexual temptation to lead especially men, into sin.
Looks a lot like what happened with Adam and Eve going against God’s design and Adam allowing his wife to lead the show, when God had given him that responsibility.
Now this is a touchy subject, because men, of course we should always listen to our wives opinions and ideas, but the Bible is very clear that we are to be the spiritual leaders in the family. We see in Genesis so far that the two times the men don’t stand up for God’s will and take the lead, that the human family gets fractured, and now Abram’s family is in trouble.
God has given husbands the authority to be the spiritual leaders in the home, and wives are to submit to that authority as they submit to Christ, even when they think their husband may be wrong. Now this is spiritual authority, not whether the in laws should come for Christmas dinner, or what their wife should wear.
But in spiritual matters, when the will of God needs to be considered, God wants the husband to take charge and the wife to submit. And I’m sorry to say that many men have abdicated this responsibility under the pressure of our culture, and many women are terrified to let their husbands take charge because the men have not trained themselves in spiritual matters very well.